By Hassan Isilow
South African activists have asked that their government take a tough stance on the recent violence plaguing the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
Iqbal Jassat, an executive member of the Johannesburg-based advocacy group Media Review Network, told Anadolu Agency Wednesday that South Africa could use its membership in the United Nations to raise the matter.
"It would be entirely consistent with the South African government's advocacy and defense of human rights as a member of the UN to seek and halt the current cleansing in Myanmar," he said.
South Africa's ruling African National Congress fought apartheid for decades until it assumed leadership in 1994.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) up to 18,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes in Rakhine state in less than a week.
Deadly attacks on border posts in Rakhine broke out Friday, resulting in mass civilian casualties.
Media reports claim Myanmar security forces used disproportionate force and displaced thousands of Rohingya Muslim villagers, destroying homes with mortars and machine guns.
The region has seen simmering tension between its Buddhist and Muslim populations since communal violence broke out in 2012.
The South African chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign said in a statement Wednesday it condemned the violence and discrimination against the Rohingya minority.
"We join calls by other human rights groups for urgent intervention and an end to the violence against this minority. The oppression of the Rohingya reminds us of our own suffering under apartheid," Kwara Kekana BDS spokeswoman, said in a statement.
A South African government spokesperson declined Anadolu Agency's request to comment on the issue.
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